We’ve got an amazing stat about Gray-Nicolls, which we’ll get to later. But first, here’s a quick thumbnail history of Gray-Nicolls cricket bats. In reading it, you’ll understand why they are one of the longest serving cricket bat manufacturers in the world – and why they demand serious attention when you consider your new 2015 cricket bat.
The roots of Gray-Nicolls can be traced back to 1855 when H.J. Gray, future world rackets champions and a well-known sportsman, first established Grays in Cambridge.
Brought about by the wartime concentration of industries act, the Gray-Nicolls brand itself was formed in 1940 after the merger of H.J Gray and Sons and L.J. Leeds, Shaw and Shrewsbury, Wainwrights of Leeds and Odds of Croydon.
Popularity grew with star endorsers Wally Hammond and Keith Miller, who was very much to Australian cricket what the “Brylcreem boy” Denis Compton was to English cricket – stardust. Going from strength-to-strength, by 1965 the skippers of all five Test-playing countries – Ted Dexter, Richie Benaud, Sir Frank Worrell, John Reid and Trevor Goddard – were all using Gray-Nicolls cricket bats.
In the 1970s, Gray-Nicolls were the first to issue coloured labels on their cricket bats and even coloured bats; Barry Richards used an orange cricket bat in county cricket.
Gray-Nicolls introduced the scoop in 1974, which kick-started a cricket bat-making revolution. David Gower adorned a GN500 4 scoop and other England captains using the trend-setting red flash included Tony Greig, Mike Dennis and Mike Brearley.
A new Gray-Nicolls cricket bat factory was opened in Melbourne and to this day, Gray-Nicolls are the only brand to make cricket bats in both England and Australia.
A legendary cast including Powerspot, the volcano and the Dynadrive, which has been revived and mordernised for 2015, rose to prominance in the 1980s when David Hookes notched the fastest ever ton and Sunil Gavaskar broke Don Bradman’s record for Test centuries with a Gray-Nicolls cricket bat. Gray-Nicolls cricket clothing was also introduced.
Gray-Nicolls cricket shoes hit the market in the 1990s, which also saw the mergence of the Elite long blade, Sabre and Millenium. One-time England skippers and now esteemed commentators, Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain, placed their faith in Gray-Nicolls, while West Indies cricket legend Brian Lara struck the highest ever Test and first-class innings with the Scoop 2000 in 1994, posting 375 and 501 respectively. Not bad.
More runs were scored with a Gray-Nicolls cricket bat in the 2003 Cricket World Cup than any other brand; Canada’s John Davison smashed the fastest World Cup ton before Matthew Hayden and Darren Lehmann, among other Gray-Nicolls ambassadors, helped Australia lift the prestigious trophy.
Alastair Cook, David Warner and George Bailey are now the headline acts for Team Gray-Nicolls, with the former notching an incredible 760 runs in the 2011 Ashes series Down Under – a feat second only to former Gray-Nicolls endorser Wally Hammond.
November of 2012 was an unbelievable month for the legendary English cricket brand, with a total of seven international hundreds being scored with a Gray-Nicolls blade. It wouldn’t be long until Gray-Nicolls were to be recognised as The Best Cricket Brand at the 2013 UK Sports Industry Awards.
Gray-Nicolls still reside in Robertsbridge, Sussex, and is still owned and controlled by the Gray family to this day. It truly is a brand that embraces both tradition and innovation.
But now to that interesting fact we promised you at the start. Are you ready? OK, here it is. No other cricket brand can boast more international centurions over the past decade than Gray-Nicolls. That’s right; this isn’t just an old-timer stuck in its ways. Gray-Nicolls cricket bats are still used by the game’s elite who are constantly re-writing the record books.
Are you thinking about investing in a Gray-Nicolls cricket bat for 2015? Everyone is different. Many players already know their brand of choice. But if you don’t; if you are still sitting on the fence, we are certain that you will be delighted with your 2015 Gray-Nicolls cricket bat. After all, 160 years’ experience is handcrafted into every single blade. And one of the many lessons we’ve learnt on the cricket pitch is that you should never underestimate the value of experience.
WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS BEEN THE MOST ICONIC GRAY-NICOLLS CRICKET BAT OF ALL-TIME? AND HAVE YOU OWNED A GRAY-NICOLLS BLADE? PLEASE TELL US BELOW.